08/15/2011 08:01 am ET | Updated Oct 15, 2011

Why I Love Being Latino in the United States

There are many things that make me proud of being Latino in the United States. First and foremost, we are the largest and fastest growing "minority" group in this country. Meaning, as time goes on, our influence is consistently penetrating and influencing (U.S.) American culture. Why is that a good thing? Because that means that we are no longer a group that can be ignored, dismissed, or continually misunderstood. Our culture will tie into the thread of what it means to be an American, and to that I say "salud."

Another reason I love being Latino in the United States is because I can be a chameleon. Growing up here, I've been forced to live in both worlds. I can speak English, Spanish and Spanglish; eat burgers and arroz con everything, and grew up listening to both Notorious BIG and Marc Anthony. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. That experience has allowed me the opportunity to be able to quickly find commonalities when dealing with people. I "get" the immigrant experience because I have family who are immigrants and I "get" the (U.S.) American experience because I've lived here my entire life. And even if you are not Latino, you have experienced one of those two things and well... so have I. Being able to live in both worlds have opened up so many opportunities for me. Being able to live in both worlds has given me a broader perspective. Being able to live in both worlds has made me who I am.

In addition to having such a great impact on this country and being able to change between both worlds seamlessly, I love being Latino because I truly believe that we are such a dynamic group of people and culture. Think about it, what other ethnic group of people can say that they are comprised of EVERY race known to man, has more than one common language that is spoken and has the best food and music known to man? (Ok that last part may be a little biased, but you get where I'm going.) We, as a whole, have so much to offer both to ourselves and outsiders looking in. We have a great, lively and vibrant culture that I could not imagine not being part of.

To me, being Latino is an awesome experience that is reflected in everything that I do. Being Latino is a way of life. The cultura that we live is something to be embraced and leveraged, something that we can hold on to, to identify who we are and what we represent.

Why do YOU love being Latino?